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Gay groups angry Kansas anti-sodomy law remains on books

By Reuters
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 19:12 EDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) – Gay rights groups are outraged that a Kansas state law banning sex between people of the same gender was left off statutes Governor Sam Brownback wants to repeal, even though the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 ruled such a Texas law unconstitutional.

Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Montana are the only states that still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, according to the gay rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

“We’re not disappointed, we’re angry,” said Thomas Witt, chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition, a state gay rights group. “We are angry that the governor of a state wants to keep a statute on the books that says gay people deserve to go to jail.”

Although the law is unlikely to be enforced, getting it off the books is advisable in case the Supreme Court should ever overturn its 2003 ruling, said Charles Joughin, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.

In 1998, Texas police responding to a separate report, arrested two men having sex in the Houston home of one of the men, citing a “Homosexual Conduct” law that banned sex between people of the same gender. The law was challenged, and the U.S. Supreme Court in June, 2003 ruled it unconstitutional.

Brownback, a conservative Republican and former U.S. senator who has come under fire in the past for some of his social views, had no comment on why the gay sex law was not on the list of those proposed recently for repeal, a spokesman said.

He created the Office of the Repealer last year in his Department of Administration. The office suggested repeal of 51 laws in subject areas that include agriculture, corrections, property taxes and organized labor.

Dennis Taylor, secretary of the state’s Department of Administration, declined to discuss any of the laws left off the list but said another list will probably be released later in the legislative session. Public comment was sought at 26 meetings.

Taylor said Brownback reviewed the initial list of laws recommended for repeal and asked that some be removed for further study. Taylor would not say if the gay sex statute was among them.

Witt said his group is attempting to get the Kansas law against gay sex abolished as part of larger legislation to recodify a host of state laws. An effort to abolish the law legislatively last year failed, he said.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

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Photo credit: Bilerico Project

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